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Mexico On My Plate: Black Sesame Polvorones

Mexico On My Plate: Black Sesame Polvorones

Polvorones are crumbly cookies found across Latin America, Spain and The Philippines.
By Nancy Lopez-McHugh

Polvorones are crumbly cookies found across Latin America, Spain and The Philippines. Some of you may know polvorones as Mexican wedding cookies. Those that are not familiar with the cookies think of them as a relative of shortbread cookies. Typically polvorones are made using flour, a fat like butter or even lard, sugar, sometimes milk, and ground nuts. Depending on the country they can be made using ground pecans, walnuts or even cashew nuts. Sometimes the polvorones are also coated in powdered sugar. Like many foods depending on the region and family the cookies can take on a different look. The commonality between them is that they are buttery, sweet and melt in your mouth.

These polvorones you see before you are a Mexican-Asian fusion version. In fact they were inspired by my friend Maya, Foodiva’s Kitchen, whom lives in Asian. It was she who put the idea in my head to cook with black sesame seeds, an ingredient she often uses. Black sesame seeds are, as far as I know, not found in Mexican cooking but are common in Asian cuisine. Maya actually shared a couple of delicious polvoron recipes one of which included black sesame seeds. My recipe is a little different than hers but do stop by for her exotic array of polvoron flavors.

Growing up I remember polvorones being one of my mami’s (mom) favorite cookies. Though I can’t recall if they were homemade or store bought. What I do remember is that she loved- I mean really loved pecan polvorones. If you’ve ever tried them you’ll agree that they are simply one of the best cookies ever invented. Being my mother’s daughter polvorones are also a favorite cookie of mine. Actually when it comes to shortbread cookies I go weak in the knees, my self control goes out the window and I can’t stop eating those delicious buttery cookies.  Though as heavenly as they taste they are dangerous for the waistline. (Damn you butter why do you have to be like that?)

When I make polvorones  I like tricking my brain. That is I satisfy the craving but to keep things a little healthier I make very small batches. On top of the small batches I make sure that the cookies are rolled out thinner, about half or a third, than the regular thicker cookies. Since the cookies are thinner you end up with a lot more cookies than you would with the thicker size. So you see in the end the craving and taste buds are silenced, and your waistline stays safe. Well, that is if  I you don’t eat the whole thin batch at once.

Let’s get baking.

Black Sesame Polvorones
Makes 10-12 thin and small cookie
1/2 cup a.p. flour
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/8 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp ground black sesame seeds (I ground up 1.5 tbsp whole seeds to get 2 tbs ground)

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1. Preheat oven to 180 c or 356f and line a cookie sheet with baking paper. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and ground sesame seeds until well combined. Pour the melted butter into the bowl while stirring. Gather the crumbly dough and place on floured surface. Flatten out to an even level and use cookie cutters to cutout cookie shapes. Place on baking sheet and continue until all the dough has been used up.

Bake in center of oven for 8-10 minutes. Check after 8 minutes and do not allow cookies to brown.

See how quick and easy that was? You know you want some polvorones now, don’t you? Nod your head, Si, si.

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